Clinch Mountain Echo

The Charlie Sizemore Band - Singing With The Angels

(Rutabaga RR-3017) 1989

Singing With The Angels
Rear Cover Side One Side Two

Average Album Rating: 3
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By the time Charlie recorded his second 'new' album for Rutabaga in Sept 1989 at River Tracks Studio in Lousia, Ky, fiddle player Buddy Griffin had dropped out as a full-time band member, and Shayne Bartley & Jack Williams had been recruited.

In an interview from the July 1990 edition of 'Bluegrass Unlimited' by John Wright (published some months after the album's release), Charlie commented:- "...I'm working on a gospel album right now and I find that I listen to song after song after song and I always go back to the Stanley Brothers' songs, especially in gospel music. It just seems like I can feel those songs so much more than I can feel any other style of songs. I've noticed in my album that even if Ralph hasn't done the songs, Ralph could do any song on that album and it would suit him. I don't know if it's by accident or design, but this album I'm doing right now is going to be much more traditional than the 'Gravel Road' album simply because that's the songs that I felt more comfortable singing."

In the same interview, Charlie also mentioned the two new band members: "The fellow who's playing the mandolin, Shayne Bartley, was recommended to me by Heath. I had met him a time or two earlier and he came to Heath's house. I drove down to Heath's and really at the time I'm not sure I was looking for a mandolin player. I needed somebody to go with me on a show because the fiddle player couldn't go. And I was impressed by his improvements since I'd last heard him and he went with me on that show and when I needed another member in the band he was the obvious choice."

"The banjo player is from the same county I'm from in eastern Kentucky, Magoffin County and I'd seen him several times when he was growing up. His name is Jack Williams. I'd tried a banjo player or two and I never could get somebody that had any kind of feel for the kind of music I was trying to do. And I remembered Jack. He had just graduated from college and wasn't doing anything. He had been playing with bands off and on, but he came down to the house and Jack and Shayne and Heath and I played a few tunes and I really began to get enthused about playing music then. I had a bunch of excellent young pickers who were really wanting to play and I though we sounded pretty good and I knew that with a little work we could once again have a pretty good band, so that's how this current band got together."

A good chunk of the material on this album consists of old gospel songs which had previously been cut by the Stanley Brothers, or Ralph... and it's kind of odd that the LP gives Charlie songwriting credit for The Church By The Road which he'd sung lead on four years earlier (as The Little Old Church By The Road) on Ralph's I Can Tell You The Time LP in 1985. The song was written by L.D. Laminack and appeared in a 1946 hymn book 'Star Of Promise'.[1]

Of the less familiar material, I Pressed Through The Crowd was written by Joe Isaacs and later recorded by The Isaacs Family, the New Coon Creek Girls (with Dale Ann Bradbury) and Paul Williams; It'll Matter But Little was written by Old Homestead/Rutabaga label owner John Morris; Singing With The Angels by Paul N. Allen (probably by the same guy who interviewed Ralph in 'Bluegrass Unlimited' in July 1991); and When The Redeemed Are Gathering In is a splendid a cappella number, which highlights how tight the band's harmony singing is.

Charlie, who was described by John Wright as "Impatient with religion, Sizemore has a conscience that would be the envy of most dedicated Christian"[2] contributes one song Time For Me To Go Home.

'Bluegrass Unlimited' mentioned the LP in their Dec. 1990 edition and finally got around to reviewing it in Mar. 1991, where it got a good write-up.

Overall it is a decent gospel release, with the vocal work being especially strong.

Side One:
The Church By The Road

L.D. Laminack
I Pressed Through The Crowd

Joe Isaacs
Time For Me To Go Home

Charles Ethan Sizemore
Singing With The Angels

Paul Neal Allen
Camping In Canaans Land

Albert E. Brumley
When The Redeemed Are Gathering In

Rev Johnson Oatman, Jr. / W.H. Dutton
Side Two:
Seek Jesus, He Still May Be Found

C. Stanley / R. Stanley
Leaning On The Everlasting Arm

Elisha A. Hoffman / Anthony J. Showalter
We Shall Rise

J.E. Thomas
It'll Matter But Little

John W. Morris
Old Country Church

J.W. Vaughan
The Prettiest Flowers

Albert E. Brumley


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[2] John Wright's book "Traveling The High Way Home" (p. 230)